Under the law, he said, Kilakila's articles of incorporation show it as a nonprofit group with no members, so it has no officers or members who can become officers. Jacobson went on to say Kilakila members can't say they are justified in participating in the case since they do not live atop Haleakala, next to it or are "distinguishable from the general public."
The state constitution's protection for religious practices also doesn't apply because no one can prove they'd be "directly and immediately impacted" by the telescope, Jacobson wrote.
He noted that the telescope will use less than an acre, is in the middle of a national park and will join other telescopes established for years in the 18-acre Science City at the crater.
Jacobson also said Kilakila can't prove the telescope would negatively impact the environment.
He said the conservation district use application includes mitigation measures that would beautify the area and remove "existing eyesores." The proposal has undergone two extensive environmental impact studies and numerous surprise official site visits, he noted.
In December 2010, the land board reviewed 1,800 pages of documents and approved a conservation district use permit for the project, along with a land management plan, which was supposed to allow construction to begin in a few months. The overall plan has been in the making since 1998.
Kilakila stepped in, though. And university and Kilakila lawyers then faced off before Jacobson for three days in July in a Wailuku county meeting room. Expert witnesses were brought in by both sides to testify about the positive impact of the telescope versus the damage construction would do to the goddess Pele and "The House of the Sun."
The building is designed to be a state-of-the-art telescope in Science City, or Haleakala High Altitude Observatory site. Project opponents have called Science City "urbanized" and the designs flawed.
Kilakila's lead attorney is Native Hawaiian Legal Corp.'s David Kimo Frankel, who could not be reached for comment Friday.
Legal Corp. attorney Alan Murakami, who's been involved in the case, said he didn't know about Jacobson's findings when contacted Friday. If the board votes against Kilakila, the group could file a court appeal, he said.
Kilakila members and some other Native Hawaiians have argued that this telescope is another disrespectful affront to their culture and freedom to practice their religion.
Removing sacred rocks from Haleakala injures Pele, and the 14-story telescope is just plain ugly, among other complaints, opponents have said.
Community proponents, including some Native Hawaiian advisers, point out that this research is intended to help save lives by understanding electrical storms and power outages caused by solar flares.
On Maui, the entire telescope project will provide hundreds of construction jobs for seven years, a few dozen full-time positions and have a Native Hawaiian Advisory Group made up of cultural practitioners dedicated to addressing any issues as they arise.
And there's a $20 million National Science Foundation grant for 10 years to UH-Maui College. The grant is aimed at getting Native Hawaiian students interested in astronomy, which was a vital part of the traditional religion and everyday life, to help become the solar telescope's future workforce.
* Chris Hamilton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.